Why does my skincare product not work (anymore)?

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If you ask yourself that question every now and then, it is time to stop whatever you are doing and do a bit of investigative work. There are a couple of easy explanations why your skincare product isn’t working as you had expected.

Choosing the wrong product for your skin
You may be wrongly assessing your skin all this time and have been buying the wrong stuff. I’ve always thought I had hyper oily skin and didn’t know I’ve only gotten half the puzzle right. In my quest to quell the sebum factories in my skin, I went all out to get industrial strength products. Not only did the sebum factories not close down, they went into overdrive and my oily skin condition became worse.

Through years of trial and error, and I add, really paying close attention to how my skin feels, looks, and reacts to products, I realised that I have oily, AND sensitive skin WITH occasional dehyration happening on the top layer of my skin.

It sounds complex but all you need to do is to really study your skin. Such as, is it oily? When does it get oily? Where does it get oily? How oily? There is more than one type of oily skin, for example, and you need to address the issue with the right product having the appropriate strength in combating the oiliness.

Does your skin get itchy easily? That could signfy sensitivity or simply dehydration, or a case of your skin being dry. If you aren’t confident of assessing your skin type correctly, go to a trained dermatologist. Getting your skin type and condition right is the first basic step towards ensuring you get the right products for it. Do note though that your skin type can change from time to time, due to season, climate or environment changes or simply from the effects of time (ok, age) – see section below on skin condition changes.

Not using your product correctly
Read the directions carefully. Yes, being guys, we all rip open the boxes (of anything, really!), and assume we know it all. We are born handy men! Roar!! Sorry mates, that is totally untrue though I wish it was.

Some products are meant to be used only a few times a week. Some are only to be applied at night. Some needs to be warmed up gently in your palms before applying it to your face, for better absorption. Each has its own set of unique application method or storage directions.

Read the directions (for once) or try changing how you’ve been applying your products. My personal experience has been that a change in application works wonders. My moisturiser worked better after I started trying a new application method. I started warming it in my palms by gently rubbing them together. Go easy here. The main aim is to introduce some heat to “wake” the product up. Not to start a campfire. After that, gently rest the areas of your palms coated with product over your face, and apply slight pressure. Rest over your face for 2-3 seconds. Continually do so by moving from section to section until the desired areas are all covered.

Another trick I found is to use a toning lotion with a cotton square/pad. Yes, some of you may scoff as it conjures up an image of femininity but look who will have the last laugh when their products work better and they attract a second look from that hot girl/guy at the bar. Soak the square of cotton with product and gently press it on your skin. Again, rest it there for 2-3 seconds before moving to the next section.

Not storing your products correctly
Again, read the directions (did I say it enough, yet?). Some products store poorly in warm surrounding and some may need to be away from direct sunlight. Still clueless? (Or lazy to read the directions?) Then, just remember the general rule of thumb is that most products should be stored in a cool place. Temperature wise, we mean. Do not store your products at your favourite bar.

Changes in your skin condition
Men are creatures of habit. Some though, will debate and say it is because we are lazy to change. However, when it comes to your skin, remember it is alive. Just like you can’t run a 6 minute per km run now like you did in your 20s (though you’d still like to brag that you can and challenge that cocky 21 year old punk at the bar to a race), your skin changes too. Sometimes, it is also due to the climate change or a change in environment, such as a change in job where your office blasts the air conditioning daily which will really dry out your skin.

Constantly watch for changes in your skin, even slight ones, and observe closely. More importantly, feel if there are changes to your skin. Is it getting flakier lately? Is it getting rashes more frequently now? Then match those conditions to the product description. Or speak to your mates about it, and see if they have the same situation and can recommend something that worked for them. Embarassed to do so? C’mon, get over it already. In case, you didn’t get the memo, it’s the 21st century already!

He Grooms spring must-have’s #3

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What’s that you say? Well, a good BB cream. BB – Blemish balm for the uninitiated.

Nope, it’s not the private domain of girls’ anymore. Guys get in on the action too.

BB cream is a good grooming product to have and use all year round. A good blemish balm helps to even out patchy skin colour and some even offer additional benefits beyond that, with sun protection and even moisturising qualities.

A great find from a recent trip to men’s grooming mecca aka Seoul is this BB cream Get Ready from DTRT Men. The acronym stands for Do The Right Thing and that’s about as straightforward as it gets. Targeted at men, they are from the same family that gives us Dr. Jart+. The packaging is simple, straightforward, and masculine. The latter quality is important for new inductees to men’s grooming who might feel self conscious buying any men’s grooming product that doesn’t come in a simple looking (boring?), manly black, grey or brown box.

In terms of quality, Get Ready BB cream offers SPF50+/PA+++. It balances skin tone and also moisturises your skin. Armed with Eco-herb complex, it helps to also control sebum so it works well for guys with oilier skin. An added function is that it also lightens your skin tone with consistent use.

There is only one shade available and it suits someone with a light to medium tan complexion. It’s definitely not for those with darker tanned skin as it could result in an unnatural fairness, and you sure do not want to look like you face-plunged into a bag of flour.

Why did this make it into the spring must-have list? Two reasons. One of them is texture. The texture of the Get Ready BB cream is light. Very light in fact. This is perfect for Asian men as we tend to have oilier skin due to the tropical climate and larger pores. A heavy BB cream not only makes our face look greasier but it is also very uncomfortable. A heavy version also potentially clogs pores, hence causing unwanted acne issues. This product provides a light and smooth finish with minimal shine. With its moisturising quality and signficant SPF, it could also double up as a moisturiser for those with really oily skin so they can skip the moisturiser altogether.

The second reason why this is a spring must-have is that this is a gentle product. It is mild to use, and this works well for our Asian male counterparts living in countries with more than just summer all-year-round. Often, most of them experience patchy, flaky skin due to climate changes in humidity and temperature when the seasons transition, especially from the dryer winter to spring. This is especially pronounced for those with sensitive skin. This gentle condition of this BB cream therefore helps ease the skin condition of those affected and gives the skin an overall healthier looking tone and appearance.

To apply, dab little “dots” of the product all over your face and neck (yes, trust me, you do want your face and neck to look like they belong to the same body). Then, using two or three finger tips, gently pat/press to spread those “dots” to cover your face. This application offers a more even distribution, and by dabbing rather than massaging, the product stays on the skin instead of being pushed around. As a last step, warm your palms by rubbing them against each other. Then rest both palms over your face lightly, and apply very light pressure. The body heat from your palms will help “seal” the product to your skin and also facilitates absoprtion, thereby increasing the efficacy of the product.

After that, finish of your look by throwing in a bit of swagger and you’re ready to get out of the door and conquer the world.

Get Ready BB cream from DTRT Men
Functions: Great all-in-one multi-function men’s grooming product – moisturises, controls sebum, lightens, evens skin tone, sun protects (SPF50+/PA+++)
Texture: Light
Suitable for: All skin types, even oily and sensitive skin. Good for humid climates.
Price: Reasonable (could vary in different markets. When bought in Seoul, it was retailed at 25,000KRW)
Overall rating: 3.5/5
Where to buy: dtrtmen.com

Cologne-in-a-tin: small is good

Alfred Lane Brio Solid Cologne

Alfred Lane Brio Solid Cologne

And someone finally made this for men. Smaller than a box of tic-tac’s yet definitely packing a punch.

Like all things that come in a tin, the packaging channels some old school charm like a good ol’ tin of strong chalky mints. According to information on afredlane.com, the founders Archie Jeter and Rafael Hernandez started Alfred Lane in 2009 and sought to recreate a product that elevated the essence of the true modern man. The products are handcrafted in Chicago, Illinois and with suppliers sourced from the USA.

The cologne-in-a-tin “test-driven” here is named Brio. Stated on the packaging itself were the terms: Vigor and vivacity. I’m not quite sure I felt that but I definitely appreciated the scent. Woody. Musky, Spicy. Just the way it was described and just the way I feel a modern gentleman’s cologne should be.

Solid perfumes are typically produced in very small quantities and hence often, they end up being collectors’ items. They are also known for the longevity of the scent – just think of it as a bottle of fragrance shrunken down into a bite size morsel. In this case, the Brio does not really last that long as initially expected. Re-application is necessary after about 3 to 4 hours. However, this proved to be no hassle at all due to its handy pocket size. It’d fit right into the pocket of your jacket and a weight that’s negligible.

To apply, dip or swirl your finger in the cologne and apply it to pulse points. This simply means literally points on your body where there is a pulse, such as the inner side of your wrist, and behind the ears and neck. The reason is simply because pulse points generate body heat and that helps intensify the fragrance and diffuse/amplify the scent.

He Grooms’ recommendation is to source for a bottled fragrance that’s similar to your final choice of Alfred Lane’s solid cologne, and to then use the solid cologne as a handy touch up on occasions where it may not be practical to bring along the entire bottle of fragrance.

Hungry eyes – don’t starve your peepers of moisture

Lab Series Daily Moisture Defense Eye Balm

Lab Series Daily Moisture Defense Eye Balm

While “Hungry eyes” was a really good ditty by Eric Carmen, it’s not something you’d want your eyes to experience in terms of moisture. Ok, so theoretically, it’s not your eyes that require moisture unless you have the chronic dry eye syndrome, in which case, it’s a whole different product you need.

We’re talking about the area surrounding your eyes. While lines around the eyes have been long been viewed as an indicator of wisdom, one can’t help but think those same wise men who coined this phrase would today much rather have less lines and let their wisdom show in other ways. Like say, develop the next Whatsapp, or figure out the Riemann hypothesis (go on, google it).

Other than a good facial wash and moisturiser, the third key skincare product for men would be the eye cream. Invest in a good one and it can go a long way towards keeping the area around the eye well hydrated and safe from premature ageing aka wrinkle formation. A good recommendation is the new Lab Series Daily Moisture Defense Eye Balm. Produced with the support of technology, it contains M-Defenseā„¢ which is basically a powerful combination of sodium hyaluronate, butylenes glycol and glycerin. These three hardworking elements come together to pull moisture from the environment to maximise the water content in skin and provide immediate and 24-hour moisturisation. If sodium hyaluronate sounds familiar, that’s because it is the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid, a well established component in hydrating skincare product concoctions due to its ability to plump skin and keep it supple.

All good products stand up to rigorous tests and this is no different for products from men’s skincare pioneer, Lab Series. When tested, immediate significant improvement in moisturisation was detected in 100% of the male users. 88% of those who continued to use it for a period of four weeks also experienced a significant reduction in under eye puffiness. As the skin around your eyes is paper thin – hence the ease for dryness and lines to show up – be gentle in applying the product. This is definitely not the time you want to flex that muscle from hours at the gym as tugging and stretching the skin around the eyes can cause it further damage. And yes, unlike the traditional elbow grease + car wax for a shiny ride, the product will still be absorbed into your skin without brute force, don’t worry. With your ring finger (the weakest finger), dab it on with minimal pressure to the area around your eyes daily in the morning and night.

Still skeptical? At a recommended retail price of only SGD45 a pop, it sure is worth a try. What have you got to lose but those pesky dark eye circles from too much late night internet surfing (spare us the details) and those couple of fine lines beginning to crawl out from the corners of your eyes?

Before you go monkey-shit crazy and snap up everything on the shelves under men’s grooming in your neighbourhood Sephora, remember, no amount of product will work without using them in combination with a healthy diet full of fresh produce, plenty of water, exercise, and proper rest.

NEW! Daily Moisture Defense Eye Balm 0.5 oz (15 ml)

He Grooms spring must-have’s #2

SS14 Men's sweatpants from Zara [Photo source: zara.com]

SS14 Men’s sweatpants from Zara
[Photo source: zara.com]

Never has there been a time like now when the sweatpant is celebrated, and is an approved sartorial choice outside of your house (or the gym).

This spring, sportswear moves out of a functional clothing category to that of mainstream fashion. While you may not be able to tell rugby from football, that’s not going to be a deciding factor in whether you can pull off the sportswear trend this season.

To pull through this season in style, every guy should have a pair of basic black (or grey) sweatpants, such as the black one from Zara that’s featured here. And to pull off the sweatpants look, the easiest way is to aim for a monochromatic ensemble. Pair your sweatpants with a simple solid white/grey/black shirt or t-shirt. Finish off the look with a pair of sneakers. This is where you monochrome-phobes can inject some colour to your overall outfit. If you need some suggestions for sneakers, here is one great choice this spring.

Remember the “less is more” rule so if you have colourful kicks, then stay away from too many accessories. Limit it to a nice watch with a metal bracelet or a simple bracelet.

Finally, while the sportswear trend is all the rage now, the trick is not to look like you just stepped out from the gym or finished a game of basketball. Juxtapose your look with something totally the opposite of sportswear, such as a nice black jacket over a t-shirt, sweatpants and sneaker look. This not only adds some interesting dimension to your look, it will also elevate the trend level of your overall look.

Darkly sensual and… olfactory-so-good

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Close your eyes. Think private library: leather bound books, leather armchairs and a faint spicy sweet whiff of cigar in the air. That is the smell of Tom Ford’s Black Orchid. If opulence could be bottled, Tom probably did it with Black Orchid.

Encapsulated within a black bottle that is accentuated with gold details, Black Orchid looks every bit its namesake – mysterious, silent but sensual – even from the packaging. The top notes evoke a mix of faint vanilla and a deep foresty sweet smell of orchids. After some time, this darkly sensual parfum drifts into woodsy musky base notes – a perfect olfactory symphony that brings to mind dark chocolate, sandalwood, leather, “oakey” red wine and sweet incense. The fragrance works well for men who do not want a fragrance that smells “put on” as this has a natural “lived in” kind of scent.

There is something very old school gentlemanly about Black Orchid though it’s marketed at women. This is one you’d imagine Sean Connery’s James Bond would wear. Given that it’s parfum, the longevity of the scent is between 4-6 hours. After that, the scent is only obvious upon very close contact – just perfect for a romantic evening out.

Great fragrance to wear and stylishly handsome bottle to have sitting in your bedroom. This is one fragrance that’s made for her, and I say, for him, too.

Get it here today.